The Journal of Political Philosophy just published a symposium on Black Lives Matter, which initially sounds like a great idea. However, Chris Lebron writes (in an open letter to the journal):
So, if you might – please do – try to imagine my distaste when it was brought to my attention that your journal published a philosophical symposium on ‘black lives matter’ with not one philosopher of color represented, without one philosopher of color to convey her or his contextualized sense of a movement that is urgently and justifiably about context.
Melvin Rogers has also written to the journal:
I do not typically claim that persons of color have an intellectual monopoly on issues affecting their life chances, but given the meaning and purpose of the movement it seems especially egregious that a person of color was not included.
So I write to find out how it is that these group of papers, only one of which mentions Black Lives Matter, came to be classified under a heading titled Symposium on “Black Lives Matter”? This question is especially important since I have now come to understand that the authors did not know they would be classified as such.
They have already made an initial reply:
Thank you for taking the time to write to us, I really do appreciate
it and am concerned about the issues you raise. I cannot say anything
on behalf of the journal before I have had a chance to talk to the
other editors (all of whom are unavailable for the next while because
they are in Australia or in transit to Europe). For my part I am also
going to need to think about this (and how to learn from it). So I
will be in touch again more fully as soon as I can, but didn’t want
your email to sit long without a response.
I very much urge you to read the whole of both open letters, linked to above. They lay out with beautiful clarity just why the composition of the symposium is a problem, and correct some widespread misunderstandings of this kind of criticisms.
[What seems to have happened, as far as I understand it, is that a conference was held on political violence. This conference had much better demographics than the symposium. A decision was made to do a symposium based on the conference, and all participants were invited to submit. The only ones who did were white. Neither the authors nor the conference organiser had any idea that this would be called a Black Lives Matter symposium. This decision seems to have been wholly made by the journal.]